As noted in PlaNYC 2030, New York City is proposing to turn the largest of three basins in the 50-acre, Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park, Queens, which has become an urban forest and fresh water wetland, into a 60-acre recreation site. Riverkeeper opposes plans to alter these wetland areas for several reasons.
Ridgewood Reservoir absorbs stormwater that would otherwise enter the city’s already over burdened sewage system. Replacing woodlands with recreational fields will exacerbate flooding and the urban heat island effect, and destroy an important habitat for many bird and plant species. The additional fields and recreational areas at Ridgewood Reservoir would not be needed if resources were devoted to improving facilities at existing recreational areas, such as Highland Park.
Past efforts to fill in wetlands and turn them into ball fields, such as Strack Pond in Queens, have failed, raising the question of the overall feasibility of such an undertaking. Any proposed changes to the Ridgewood Reservoir should be subject to SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) and CEQR (City Environmental Quality Review) processes.